15 March, 2021 | Posted by Portobello Institute

The Difference Between Hard and Soft Facilities Management

Hard and Soft Facilities Management

Facilities Management is an ever-expanding market that encompasses different disciplines and places value in all different types of skill sets. As a result, we often hear about hard and soft Facilities management services. In this post we discuss the difference between Hard and Soft Facilities management.

Changing Needs In The FM Sector

Facilities Managers have historically come from trade backgrounds, hard services or those who have worked their way up from being security guards or cleaners. As workplaces evolve, the opportunities and roles available at companies continue to grow. The needs of companies are changing.

There is now a greater emphasis on new ways of managing buildings and managing companies. Security has changed because the day of the physical bank robber has come and gone to be replaced by the cybercriminal. In that same fashion, integrating intranets and managing internet presences of companies has pushed the IT sector into greater prominence in the Facilities Market.


The Changing Roles Of FM Managers

Continuing the evolution, Facilities Managers have become more and more aware of the mental health of their colleagues. Technology is changing the way we work while research into the happiness and comfort of workers is revealing that the most productive workers are the most comfortable workers.

Both facility managers and facility management companies benefit from safe and secure workplaces. Facilities Managers create these environments by executing Hard Facilities Management Services and Soft Facilities Management Services. Below we will discuss the difference between soft and hard FM services.


Hard Facilities Management Services

Hard Facilities Management is the traditional idea of facilities management. It deals with looking after the building specifically. Any service that maintains or upgrades the physical features of the building is a hard facilities management service. Often these services are part of the building, a permanent fixture required by law.

Hard FM services include:

  • Heating & cooling systems, air conditioning and ventilation
  • Fire safety systems
  • Plumbing
  • Lighting
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Building maintenance / maintenance management


Soft Facilities Management Services

Soft Facilities Management services are any range of services that improve the security and wellbeing of employees in the workplace. They are not always deemed necessary and are typically implemented based on the specific needs of the setting or work being done.

Examples of Soft FM Services include:

  • Cleaning / janitorial / pest control
  • Building security
  • Waste management
  • Catering
  • Mail management
  • Interior decor
  • Landscaping


How Does a Company Know What Type of FM Service it Needs?

What type of hard FM or soft FM services a company needs comes down to a number of factors. Companies cannot skip on services that are required by law where safety and welfare of employees and customers are necessary. They can carry out a Facilities Needs Assessment to determine which soft services are superfluous.

For example, a company that does all of its communication over email doesn’t need a department that manages its mail. It might need IT support to set up and maintain email accounts though.


Examples Of Hard and Soft FM Services

Think of a media company based on the fifth floor of a building in a city centre location. They won’t need hard FM services like landscaping department or a waste management department. They will need soft FM services like janitorial and cleaning services and will require a mail department to sort regular communications from listeners or other companies.

A factory mass producing chocolate based out in the country will need to have a grasp on its waste and landscaping but probably won’t receive any hand-written letters.


The differences between soft services and hard services are not too dissimilar to the differences between software and hardware. It's an easy way to remember them.

So long as businesses exist, there will be a need for hard and soft services. Covid-19 will alter how offices work moving forward but the principles will remain the same. Whether it’s figuring out how to best manage people working remotely or setting up a safer office building upon full reopening, Facilities Managers will remain integral.


Start A Career As A Facilities Manager

To understand even more about Facilities Management and consider if it could be the career for you, you can read What Does Facility Management Cover? or browse through Portobello Institute’s Facility Management courses, you can go directly to the Facilities Management FM department.

If you have any questions, you can contact course advisor Brandon on 01 892 0035 or email brandon.mclean@portobelloinstitute.com.

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